This is my Bard Supplement Essay! Let me know what you think!
Prompt: A) One hundred years ago, in 1912, the Austrian writer and social critic Karl Kraus, famous for his provocative aphorisms, wrote "Civilization ends, since barbarians erupt from it." Write a short commentary on what you think this might mean from your perspective 100 years later, and whether it makes any sense.
The idea of a society is based entirely off of relationships between people. Social constructs are developed from within, providing structure and cultivating relationships. This results in civilization, an advanced development of a group of people. What enables a society to be labeled as "civilized" is that it is capable of instituting laws and organization, not the laws themselves, which then leads me to question: Do we define ourselves as a civilization solely by the laws that we put into effect? If a culture is nothing more than its beliefs, then transformation can only result in damage, and growth is merely the advancement of those initial ideals. I believe that a culture is equally defined by both its ideas, and its ability to change them.
The notion that "Civilization ends, since barbarians erupt from it" is a fairly prevalent idea in our modern-day world. This theory, articulated by Karl Kraus, transcends time as it criticizes any troubled society, but what we see is that these "barbarians", though attempting to destroy, push society further into improvement. The role of the "barbarian" is what makes the difference between right or wrong, the end of civilization or a bright future. The barbarian is both the leader implementing rules, and the rebel fighting against them.
The Women's Rights movement in the 19th century aimed to establish rights and entitlements such as autonomy, education, suffrage, and equal treatment for women. For centuries women have fought, and will continue to fight, in order to gain gender equality in all respects. These women are not savages with the intent of destruction. They fight against social norms seeking social equality. The roots of "civilization" did not depict women as leaders or equals, but as subordinates, making society the offender. Civilization did not end as a result of this fight, rather it began to reform and flourish.
"Barbarians", in Karl Kraus' use of the word, highlight the need for social change and reform. A person that brings attention to an issue implements change, and someone who causes the problem forces others to take charge. Whether or not the "barbarian" fights for what is right, he becomes a catalyst for further civilization.
Our society has fought many battles internally, and internationally, but each conflict has earned us the rights we believe that we deserve. The Revolutionary War gave us independence and autonomy, the Women's Right's movement has fought for gender equality, the Civil War highlighted the importance of a national understanding of what rights were, and the Civil Rights movement fought to prove that everyone was entitled to them. Our history as a people proves that we become civilized by creating and instituting a culture, but we remain civilized by amending and developing our world. Our world is no way perfect, and it may never be, but the moment that we allow ourselves to stop improving and changing, is the moment that civilization ends.